AHome of Sorts

India Today - - MAIL - by Shirley Joshua

In a des­o­late street, al­most on the out­skirts of the cap­i­tal, is an enor­mous iron gate bent but solid with Nari Nike­tan writ­ten across it in bold let­ters. The gate is al­most al­ways chained shut with a mas­sive Go­drej lock. The only en­trance or exit is through a small open­ing on one side of the gate which is used ex­clu­sively by the war­dens and clean­ers and this im­pris­ons be­hind it over 100 des­ti­tute woman.

The in­sti­tute is run by the govern­ment. It dates back to 1950 when it was started by Shri Moti Ramesh­wari for the ben­e­fit of all un­wanted women. “Un­mar­ried mothers, wi­d­ows, women in moral dan­ger are all here,” said Mrs Shanta Ratna, su­per­in­ten­dent of Nari Nike­tan. But she con­tra­dicted her­self im­me­di­ately when she added that the in­sti­tute only shel­tered those girls brought in by the po­lice.

Of th­ese girls more than 75 per cent are those who have been res­cued dur­ing raids on red light ar­eas. Mal­lika ( not her real name), 25, is one such ex­am­ple. She had re­port­edly eloped from Madras with a man who promised to marry her. But the man sold her to a ‘ nautch house’ in G. B. Road.

ONE WOMAN’S INI­TIA­TIVE

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